Youth who engage in heavy substance use during adolescence are at high risk for continued use, addiction, and mental health problems throughout their lives. The growth in prescription drug misuse and the related trend in heroin use has exacerbated this problem in Indiana and surrounding states. Understanding adolescent substance use in Indiana and the needs of Indiana residents to ameliorate adolescent substance use is important to more effectively educate Indiana residents, especially parents, and prevent adolescent substance use problems. This AgSEED proposal by Dr. Kristine Marceau, a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Human Development and Family Studies department, and a team of faculty with quantitative, qualitative, and community-based research expertise from several departments in the Colleges of Health and Human Sciences, Liberal Arts, and Extension, will address the major contemporary problem of adolescent substance use in Indiana. Our overarching goal is to facilitate informed decision-making to improve the well-being of Indiana youth and their families. We propose a three-arm Applied Research study, including 1) information gathering, 2) an outreach component: education through Extension, and 3) qualitative community-based participatory research aimed at understanding the prevalence of adolescence substance use and needs of Indiana residents surrounding adolescent substance use prevention and resources. At the culmination of this project, we will have the following products: publications and white papers disseminating our findings, pilot data for a planned R21 or R34 to be submitted to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and a deliverable informational session for families that can be continued by Extension. This project is funded by the Purdue University Agricultural Science and Extension for Economic Development (AgSEED) Grant.
This project examines how farmers and transnational retailers in South India are creating meaning and effecting environmental change through certified organic agriculture. Certified organic agriculture has emerged as a solution to ecological degradation, sustainable environmental development, and agrarian crisis in South India. However, farmers’ management knowledge, rural communities’ potential for economic growth, and local environmental impact varies considerably between crops and regions. While consumers considering a certified organic product may gloss over differences in agricultural goods or branding, the daily experience of organic farming in different regions, illustrated in this project by Telangana cotton farmers and Andhra Pradesh coffee growers, varies considerably across education, infrastructure, state governance, and climate. By conducting field research with farmers, NGOs, and retailers, this project will examine how organic commodity chains create new development subjects, introduce creative possibilities for farmer agency, interact with state regulators, and ultimately create new possibilities for environmental management. This project also provides one of the first case studies in marketing and regulatory variability between alternative agriculture projects in these newly bifurcated states. Despite differences in crops, climate, infrastructure, and governance, organic agriculture in both contexts can be a means for reduced agrochemical input, biodiversity conservation, improved livelihoods, and economic development. Emphasizing the tensions between international regulations, local commodity networks, and the active role of farmers shaping development programs in their own interests, this research will be of interest to policy-makers and consumers grappling with the transformative potential of alternative agriculture. This project is funded by the American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Fellowship.
Human bodies teem with trillions of microbes, a complex assemblage of bacteria, eukaryotes, and viruses essential for human health and wellbeing. This microbiome is the result of the foods we eat and the places where we live, but humans are not passive in our environments: we domesticate species, change habitats, and process foods in ways that have distinctive and synergistic effects on microbial communities. By consuming probiotic bacteria, humans can modify the microbiome within our guts to reap substantial health benefits ranging from neurological function to immune response. The keys to understanding the interactions between fermentation and the gut microbiome lie in the processes and technologies by which foods are fermented – a cultural as well as biological question of microbial activity, diet, fermentation practices, and local culinary traditions. In this project, we combine research strategies from biology, genetics, and cultural anthropology to investigate how local knowledge and cultural practices associated with fermented food production directly impact microbial communities within ourselves. This project is funded by the Purdue University College of Liberal Arts Global Synergy Grant.
Food traditions are an important way of maintaining traditional ecological knowledge and heirloom resources. Cooking and gardening are means to keep both social relationships and environmental relationships strong because they require frequent practice and adaptation. Global environmental change will have consequences for land and biodiversity, but in rural Bosnia and elsewhere, these changes ripple through our cuisines, gardens, and communities. The solutions to climate change will have to include multinational policy initiatives and innovative technology. But while these grand solutions are important, empowering and celebrating the communities sustaining biodiverse traditions around the world can be even more valuable. The front lines of climate change are our world’s farms, gardens, seed stores, and kitchens. These families, and especially these women, work every day to sustain biological and cultural diversity for the rest of us. This project is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.
Because of the diversity of intervention programs and the innovative ways in which stakeholders throughout supply chains interact and exert their agency, the relationship between subjective transformation and particular socioeconomic reward structures in development remains under-theorized. By exploring the ways in which farmers respond to incentives and constraints within development programs as well as the way in which farmers’ own agendas and values come to shape the reality of development, this workshop seeks to connect the complicated forces shaping farmer identity to direct environmental management. In doing so, it aims to better describe a political ecology of development roles in South Asia and refocus attention on socially mediated environmental management. This workshop will provide a venue for historians, anthropologists, geographers, and economists from South Asia, Europe, and North America to discuss new empirical and theoretical research in development and performance across the agrarian landscape. We intend to publish an edited volume or special issue journal based on the papers and discussions inspired by this workshop. This project is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and will took place April 27-29, 2017 in Heidelberg, Germany.
Publications related to this project:
Selected papers from this workshop were published in a special section of the Journal of Political Ecology , including contributions from Paul Richards, Glenn Davis Stone, Dominic Glover, Harro Maat, Andrew Flachs, Debarati Sen, and Daniel Münster.
Flachs, Andrew and Paul Richards. 2018. “Playing development roles: the political ecology of performance in agricultural development.” Journal of Political Ecology, 25(1):638-646.
Flachs, Andrew. 2018. “Development roles: contingency and performance in alternative agriculture in Telangana, India.” Journal of Political Ecology, 25(1):716-731.
This research examines seemingly small decisions, such as the particular seeds farmers plant, to investigate how people manage food and agriculture systems and what role larger institutions play in guiding their behavior. For this project I combined quantitative demographic, economic, and biodiversity data with ethnographic detail to develop the first comprehensive study comparing the social politics of biotechnology and alternative agriculture on farms in South India. Designing my research at the intersection of anthropology and environmental studies, I ask how new technologies become viable, sustainable elements in daily life. While others have argued that these technologies are simply ‘better mousetraps’ for modern farmers, I showed that the success of genetically modified (GM) or organic seeds instead depend on farmers’ capacity to build nuanced local knowledge about their seeds. This project has been funded in part by the National Geographic Young Explorer's Grant, the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, the Lynne Cooper Harvey Fellowship, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the John Templeton Foundation.
Publications related to this project:
Flachs, Andrew. 2019. “Planting and Performing: Anxiety, Aspiration, and “Scripts” in Telangana Cotton Farming.” American Anthropologist, 121(1):48-61.
Flachs, Andrew. 2018 “The Factish in the Field: An Anthropological Inquiry of Genetically Modified Seeds and Yields as Beings.” Science and Technology Studies, published online July 31, 2018.
Flachs, Andrew. 2018. “Listing at Multiple Stages: Using Key Informants and Walking Probes to Generate Efficient and Accurate Lists During Larger Surveys.” Field Methods, 30(3):175-190.
Flachs, Andrew. 2017. “ Show Farmers: Transformative Sentiment and Performance in Organic Agricultural Development in South India.” Culture, Agriculture, Food, and Environment, 39(1):25-34.
Flachs, Andrew. 2016. “The Economic Botany of Organic Cotton Farms in Telangana, India.” Journal of Ethnobiology, 36(3):683-713.
Flachs, Andrew. 2016. Cultivating Knowledge: The Production and Adaptation of Knowledge on Organic and GM Cotton Farms in Telangana, India. Doctoral Dissertation, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri.
Flachs, Andrew. 2016. “Redefining Success: The Political Ecology of Genetically Modified and Organic Cotton as Solutions to Agrarian Crisis.” Journal of Political Ecology, 23(1):49-70.
Flachs, Andrew. 2015 “Persistent Agrobiodiversity on Genetically Modified Cotton Farms in Telangana, India.” Journal of Ethnobiology, 35(2):406-426.
This ongoing project combines approaches from historical ecology and political ecology to ask how people have created sustainable agricultural systems in a single place over the span of 2,000 years given natural and political constraints. Bringing together approaches from archaeology, history, ecology, and anthropology, this project sees the landscape as a palimpsest on which story of environmental management is continually written. This project is funded in part through the Library of Congress Blanton Owen Award and the Lynne Cooper Harvey Fellowship.
Publications related to this project:
Flachs, Andrew and Matthew Abel. 2018. “An Emerging Geography of the Agrarian Question: Spatial Analysis as a tool for Identifying the New American Agrarianism.” Rural Sociology, published online October 3, 2018.
In collaboration with Glenn Davis Stone and Dominic Glover, this project investigates the impacts of genetically modified crops on indigenous knowledge in India and the Philippines. Rather than take a simplistic view of GM crops and development, this research focuses on how farmers are managing these crops within their farming system. This project is funded by the John Templeton Foundation (Glenn Davis Stone, PI).
Publications related to this research:
Flachs, Andrew and Glenn Davis Stone. 2018. "Farmer Knowledge Across the Commodification Spectrum: Rice, Cotton, and Vegetables in Telangana, India." Journal of Agrarian Change, published online September 28, 2018.
Stone, Glenn Davis and Andrew Flachs. 2017. “The Ox Fall Down: Path Breaking and Technology Treadmills in Indian Cotton Agriculture.” The Journal of Peasant Studies, 45(7):1272-1296.
Flachs, Andrew, Glenn Davis Stone, and Christopher Shaffer. 2017. “Mapping Knowledge: GIS as a Tool for Spatial Modeling of Patterns of Warangal Cotton Seed Popularity and Farmer Decision-Making.” Human Ecology, 45(2):143-159.
Stone, Glenn Davis and Andrew Flachs. 2015. “Seeking Sustainability for Smallholders: Bt Cotton in India.” In Africa's future...can biosciences contribute?, David Bennett and Patrick Mitton, eds. Pp. 119-128. Cambridge, Banson/B4FA.
Stone, Glenn Davis and Andrew Flachs. 2014 “The Problem with the Farmer’s Voice.” Agriculture and Human Values, 31(4):649-653.
Stone, Glenn Davis, Andrew Flachs, and Chrsitine Diepenbrock. 2014 “Rhythms of the Herd: Long Term Dynamics in Seed Choice by Indian Farmers.” Technology in Society. 36(1): 26-38.
Motivated by a lifelong interest in gardening and alternative food production, this project investigated the role of community and urban gardens as alternative food spaces in Northeastern Ohio. While many community members used these spaces to supplement their household food security in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, these gardens also filled a crucial role as social spaces where people could interact in a safe and natural space. This project was funded by the McNair Fellowship/Oberlin College Research Fellowship.
Publications related to this research:
- Flachs, Andrew. 2013 “Gardening as Ethnographic Research – Volunteering as a Means for Community Access.” Journal of Ecological Anthropology, 16(1):97-103
- Flachs, Andrew. 2010 “Food For Thought: The Social Impact of Community Gardens in the Greater Cleveland Area.” Electronic Green Journal, 30(1):1-9.